American Idol EP Per Blankens on Rush Week Cruelty, Randy's Mentoring, J.Lo Close-Ups

011243With American Idol‘s milestone 500th episode slated for Wednesday (8/7c on Fox), it seems like a good time for reflection inside The House That Kelly Clarkson Built (and Fantasia Shook to the Rafters).

To that end, we got on the phone with executive producer Per Blankens, who left his perch at Swedish Idol and took over the U.S. franchise for Season 13, to dish the changes he’s brought to the show over the last five months.

RELATED | American Idol Top 4 Results Recap: Guess What? I’m Havin’ More Fun, Now That We’re Done!

Why has the show switched to open-ended theme nights? How successful (or cruel) were the Rush Week and Top 5 Results Night twists? And what’s with the cutaways during contestant performances? We posed all these questions and more to Mr. Blankens. Read on to hear what he had to say…

TVLINE | The first thing everyone noticed about Season 13 — right from the get-go — was vastly improved chemistry on the judges’ panel. There was none of the toxicity we saw between Mariah and Nicki last year. How would you grade the judges overall this season? And is it your goal to have some continuity by bringing Keith, J.Lo and Harry back for Season 14?
I love the panel. What we said about this season was that we would like to have a panel that would go out to dinner together even though the cameras were not on them. So, we actually took them out to dinner before we went on the road, and we could instantly tell that they liked each other and had a good time. And we managed to bring that into the audition room and it also carried over to the live shows, too. If it was up to me, I would love to have this panel forever and ever.

RELATED | American Idol Exclusive: Top 3 Week Details — Find Out Who’s in Charge of Song Choice!

TVLINE | Somewhere around Top 12, Top 11 week — we saw Harry give a fairly detailed explanation of why the judges were being so tough and so specific with their critiques — this idea of, “We have to be honest in order for you to reach your potential.” Did you specifically ask him to explain that on air? Was there any fear that if the feedback was too harsh, the viewing public might lose faith or interest in the contestants?
This competition is the real thing. You want to see the arc from when the contestants debut on the first live show all the way ’til the finale. The kids aren’t great in the beginning, and it’s the judges’ job to coach them, to give them tools so they can be better. Have you seen the movie An Officer and a Gentleman? Deep down inside, it’s love. They want to bring out the best in each contestant, and that’s how they do it. If they were to say, “you were great, you’re a superstar, you’re perfect,” that wouldn’t be honest. Compared to other shows, we’re trying to let you see the real journey. I guess it could come across as a little bit negative, but it is American Idol and this is how the process is done.

TVLINE | So, one twist this season that was pretty controversial happened during “Rush Week” — when you had 15 guys and 15 ladies in a holding room, but only let 10 of each take the stage and sing for America’s votes. In retrospect, was that too cruel? If you could do it over again, would you still have kids come all that way without giving them an opportunity to sing?
I liked how it turned out, and what I regret is that we didn’t explain properly for the viewers what had happened. The last thing that you saw [prior to Rush Week] was the Green Mile, as I call it, when the judges tell the 30 kids, “You’re through to the next round.” What we didn’t show on TV was that all the 30 kids performed in front of the judges on the very same day as the [Rush Week] broadcast, and during that round, the judges decided which 10 of each category could perform for the viewers. And they could’ve said to them [right then and there], “You’re going through, or you’re not going through,” but since it’s a TV show, they revealed that information on the live broadcast. We could’ve explained better that we didn’t fly 30 people all the way to L.A. just to have them sitting in the chamber and not performing. That week we aired Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and after the Tuesday show, we were like “Oh my God, we haven’t been clear.” We tried to put it in the script many times for the Wednesday show, but the damage was already done. [You can't assume] the viewers got it, because how it is when you watch TV, you’re talking on your phone and you’re doing the dishes.

TVLINE | Do you think next year we might see a little more of the Idol Boot Camp that preceded Rush Week? We only saw glimpses of Adam Lambert and Chris Daughtry offering advice and sizing up the hopefuls, but I feel like that would make for really interesting television, showing us more of what happens behind the curtain.
Yeah, I liked the workshop too. It was a new thing. It gave the kids some preparation for what’s to come. Adam and Chris were super devoted – I’m very impressed with these guys. They showed up, they were there for two days — even though it was just a small segment that got shown — and they did a lot of things off camera that you never got to see.

TVLINE | Themes have been much broader in Season 13. We haven’t had Motown week or Dolly Parton week or anything that narrow, but rather, thematic umbrellas under which all the contestants try to fit — “Home,” “This Is Me,” “Recent Billboard Hits.” Have you been happy with the results in term of song choice? Were there any weeks that you feel worked out better than others?
We were going to try and make the kids pick songs they could relate to, because one of the critiques that they had the previous year was that the kids didn’t really relate to themes like Burt Bacharach and what have you. Viewers appreciate that kind of music, but maybe the kids didn’t relate. So we tried to come up with new ways to organize. This year’s been all about change – maybe we changed too much, maybe we changed too little – but I think that all the themes have their charms. I liked “America’s Request.” I also liked “Back to the Start,” which was when the kids sang their audition songs in a live show, to highlight the arc — six months later, how much they have progressed and learned. Most of the themes, in my opinion, worked out pretty well, but maybe during next season we’ll take a look at the themes again. For instance, one of the other themes was “’80s Week,” which is more similar to what the show did in the past.

TVLINE | On the flip side, though, I would say that perhaps we missed out on a little of the surprise and the drama of seeing contestants be forced out of their comfort zones and try something new — which has led to big moments in the past. I mean, we’ve heard a lot of the kids say this year, “Well I used to sing this in my sets back at home” or “I used to sing this in local bars.” In Season 14, is there a chance you might slip in a couple of more narrow theme weeks?
When this show started 13 years ago – well actually 15 if you count Pop Idol – the aim was to find a recording artist, and you’d put them through different tests. “We’re going to try you on rock and roll now, we’re going to try you on pop.” And then at the end you knew what kind of artist this kid would be. Now, the kids already know in a way what kind of artists they are, and even though you like the drama of being through different tests – having Caleb trying jazz, for example, would be interesting — this was not the year to do that. I’m sure we can do that next year, maybe that was a mistake, I don’t know, but I liked all the themes so far and I think there’ve been some good performances.

TVLINE | I loved that this year we actually got to hear a couple of contestant’s original songs during the live voting rounds — courtesy of Jessica and Alex. Is there any chance we’ll hear more before the season is over? Is there any challenge with originals in terms of clearance or iTunes or contractual considerations?
It’s not that hard to pull them off, it’s just that not all the kids are gifted at writing original songs. And the other thing is that if the audience recognizes the song, then they can relate to it and have an opinion if the contestant is doing it well or not. So, I like when you can audition with original songs, but don’t necessarily want to have too many original songs when we go into the live rounds.

TVLINE | One thing that’s always struck me about Idol is that it’s a great place for true amateurs coming from nowhere — which really differs from The Voice, where you see a lot of semi-pros. Is it harder to create musical magic when you’re starting with people who are a little bit more unpolished? This season, I feel like Majesty and Sam came in as front-runners, but on the live stage, it became clear they weren’t quite ready.
I mean, I don’t want to specifically point out two contestants – but in general, that’s part of the process. They start with the Top 13, Top 10, and then we see who can go the longest distance; it’s like a marathon. Going back to [our conversation about] the judges, and how they viewed the kids in the beginning: If everybody was super good from day one, you wouldn’t have that arc or that journey or that umm umm – I’m from Sweden, what am I trying to say?

TVLINE | That growth arc, is what I think is what you’re saying.
Yes. Some contestants grow into stars — something you wouldn’t have predicted a few weeks earlier. And some people that you really think are the next Idol, they make mistake after mistake after mistake — and then eventually get voted out. That ‘s the charm of the whole show.

TVLINE | Probably the biggest complaint I’ve seen from readers this year focuses on Randy Jackson and his role as mentor. We haven’t really seen any specific advice he’s given the contestants. Is that a fair criticism?
No. I mean Randy is our in-house mentor. He put together the workshop that you really liked, he brought in Adam and Chris. He’s been the mentor, and he’s actually working a lot — not only on camera, but off camera with the kids every week. And then he has brought in the other [guest] mentors. I think Randy’s doing a fantastic job.

TVLINE | But when David Cook and Jason Mraz came in as guest mentors, we saw them giving really actionable, specific feedback. In the weeks where it was Randy alone, we didn’t see any of that on our screens. Which makes me wonder…
I mean, in the beginning, you saw Randy — like, the three first weeks [of live shows], he was doing what David and Jason did. But then, as the show moves on and we need new content, he still does [his job] but maybe we’re not showing it enough on TV. And he has his part on Thursdays, where he talks about how it went down on Wednesdays with the kids. If you think you haven’t seen enough of him, I’m sorry, Maybe we can bring him back a little bit more now at the end [of the season], if that’s a request from you, Mike.

TVLINE | No, no, no! What I’m saying is, none of the clips we’ve seen of Randy’s mentoring have been as specific or insightful as, for example, the advice we saw David Cook providing in ’80s Week. It just strikes me that the guest mentors seem to have exceeded the in-house mentor. On that note, people loved seeing David Cook back on their screens. Would you like to see more Idol alumnae as guest mentors in Season 14?
Yeah, I think so, because this show has so many great talents, and I just love when they want to come back and help the youngsters. They know what they’re talking about. They’ve been through this process and are very sincere when they talk about it, and about all the experiences they gained after the show, too. If it was between a former Idol and somebody random, I would always go with the former Idol.

TVLINE | Season 13 has also been very different from a visual standpoint — with a lot of split screens and insets. Was that a big goal of yours, to change the look of the show? And what’s the logic behind those visuals?
Well, the split screen, the boxes, is kind of a retro thing – it was popular in the ’60s. I introduced it to Swedish Idol a few years ago, and I liked it because there’s so many cutaways that you want – y’know, when Ryan is reading who is eliminated, you want to see the face of the kid, you want to see the judges’ reactions, you want to see the family of the contestants and the audience, too. The way we solved it back home was the split screen. So I brought it here, too. We did it in the audition phase as well, to get the viewers used to this new style. I’m not necessarily sure that we’d do it next season; maybe we’ll come up with something else. But I really wanted a distinctive visual look for American Idol this season, like a fresh coat of paint.

TVLINE | During the live contestant performances, too, we’re getting a lot of reaction shots from the families, from the girls down in the pit, a lot of J.Lo, too. Why?
When you watch a movie, or watch a drama, you see expressions on other people’s faces away from the actual action, if you will. So, if we cut away to Jennifer, then you can say from the couch, to your friends, “Ahh, I think Jennifer likes this.” If we cut away when she doesn’t look happy, then that tells you something else. It’s a way of telling the story — and using cutaways to the families and the fans is the same idea. It’s storytelling, to not merely point all 16 cameras on the Idol [contestant]].

TVLINE | There are a lot of complaints that you show way too many shots of J.Lo during performances — to the point where readers have been asking if you’re contractually obligated to show her X number of times per performance or per episode.
Oh, really? They’re complaining about too many shots of J.Lo? Is that possible? [Laughs] There’s no contractual thing. We obviously want to show the whole panel, but I haven’t really done any counting of who gets the most cutaways.

011300TVLINE | The Top 5 results night twist where you asked the contestants to vote whether to keep the group in tact and cut two people the following week. Were you surprised two kids voted “No” put the kibosh on it? And was there any part of you that thinks, in retrospect, maybe it was too mean-spirited to put the contestants through that on live TV?
No, I wouldn’t say too cruel, because we wanted to give the power back to the kids. The viewers decide who goes or who stays, and then you have the Judges’ Save, where they get a say. But at no point do  the contestants themselves get to decide. It has to be unanimous — and they also voted anonymously, so we did try to figure out how we could do it without being cruel, and I think we came up with the best solution. Either everybody thinks it’s a good idea — or if somebody doesn’t, then we’re not doing it, so that’s the unanimous part of it.

TVLINE | Did you think everyone would vote yes?
I had no idea how it would end. We had two different endings in the control room: We had a code word called “confetti” or “no confetti.”

TVLINE | Did you guys decide to do the twist before or after you knew Sam was the lowest vote-getter?
We decided this before we knew who was going home.

TVLINE | One thing I really miss since you switched to half-hour results are alumni performances. Do you miss the one-hour results format? Is there any way to fit an alumni performance into the 30-minute segment? Because to me, one of Idol‘s greatest advantages is that it really produces a whole slew of musicians who people continue to follow after the show.
If we go back to the one-hour schedule, I would love to have alumnae coming back because that’s – like you said – one of the greatest things with American Idol, they have so much talent out there that we can claim is ours and we want to tell their story and that they’re still doing great. But it’s just a matter of where and when in the show to put it. Hopefully there’s more time next year.

TVLINE | What do you think has been the biggest success story for you in terms of the changes you’ve made on the show?
I would be surprised if we asked, “How about the big changes on American Idol Season 13?” that the man on the street [would really notice any]. We did a lot of small things, everything from the set design to the audition rooms to the golden ticket that the judges themselves hand out, finding the panel, to allowing guitars. Some changes played out for the better, some not – we already mentioned Rush Week – which I still think was great TV, but it was perceived as cruel to the kids. But just in general, I’m very proud and very happy to be a part of this year, and I’ve had the time of my life working on the show. The format still works, it’s still the best talent show, and the question is — does it need a big game changer for next season or not? If we do need one, we certainly have some suggestions.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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209 Comments
  1. Mik says:

    It seems like PB got a bit angry Michael was asking those questions, and to get back at him he threatened to give Randy more air time. LOL! Thanks for the interview though!

    • karyn says:

      I thought the exact same thing. Like PB was saying to Michael “Be careful what you wish for”

    • Im says:

      Oh, and wasn’t it ridiculous how he acted like it was crazy that people would get tired of seeing J Lo’s face so many times? Just because she’s good-looking doesn’t mean we need to see her that many times. It’s makes me get annoyed with her. The show isn’t all about her. I certainly hope people are tuning in to see the contestants sing, not see her mug every few seconds.

  2. CK says:

    Ty for the interview. It seems like he’s just towing the company line though. They could have forced the top 10 to fight each other in some sort of hunger games-esque rating ploy and PB would still stand behind it.

  3. lisakay says:

    Great interview! Those were the questions I would want to ask. Although Slezak almost slipped up and got us MORE Randy! Glad he back pedaled on that one – crisis averted

    • Kiki says:

      LOL! Next thing you know, Slezak’s going to ask for more cutaways to JLo more covers of Against All Odds! ;-)

      • Michael, I was hoping you would ask him why he doesnt get haley or melinda to go there and mentor too. What I do like is the little skits they have. When they talk over dinner about their performances and that skit where they all wore calebs wig and then they had pink hair strip trying to be jessica. Those videos are on u tube. Well the show is a little more comical this year. I am a fan of you and your reality check with melinda! She is my favorite of all time. God she can sing! Her laugh cracks me up!

        • buffy522 says:

          PERFECT INTERVIEW except for no question about that bit about the airplane hangar and bus ride. You went for it and confronted him with everything we were talking about all season!

        • Im says:

          I didn’t like those skits, they went on too long and weren’t really that funny.

    • MAB says:

      How come the question about the two buses one to Hollywood and one back to the airport was not addressed? I thought that was the cruelest thing ever. Those poor kids did not even get a chance to catch their breath. A lot of people stopped watching after that.

  4. FACEPALM says:

    “Maybe we can bring [Randy] back a little bit more now at the end [of the season], if that’s a request from you, Mike.”

    What have you DONE, Slezak?!

    • syb says:

      That was hysterical. TVLINE: NO! NO! NO! Hahaha. Somebody reads your stuff up there.

      • deedee says:

        Yes, there was an definite feeling that PB was taunting Michael with the suggestion of more Randy. Maybe that’s where Kieran went – promoted from light-dimmer to official reader of Slezak for Per Blankens! :)

    • Michelle R. says:

      That was the best! I could feel the horror when Michael realized he might have inadvertently brought about his worst nightmare.

    • Ben says:

      That is the best thing to ever happen. And it is the kind of thing that can happen with a language gap!

      • MamaLis says:

        HIL-arious!! And I think Michael did it, now.
        Just watch…… a big piece of Randy-pie is coming your way. Courtesy of the Universe, Mr. Michael Slezak, and a little something called Poetic Justice!! LoL

    • karenb says:

      Lmao.

  5. Debbie Mills says:

    I won`t watch AI next year if things stay this way!

    • one of Caleb's retarded fans! says:

      Don’t worry it’s the same… same judges will be back, Randy will be back. It’s like ground hog day.

  6. Kaba says:

    I choked on my drink from laughter during that evidently awkward moment about Randy. Can that be notched as a passive aggressive threat from Per? Lol, don’t you make this worse for us Slezak.
    All in all, I say this was an acceptable and cliché interview. Of course he doesn’t think his ideas and decisions have been bad and of course he’s gonna claim to try and satisfy everyone.

    • Foxfire says:

      Per Blankens missed his calling, he should be a politician. Certainly difficult to pin him down on anything.

      • HTGR says:

        +1
        .
        He also seems a bit clueless and out of touch about what started getting people mad over the last few years in particular. I sensed that he had zero clue about the whole S10 and JLo thing, for instance.

    • NJIdoloonie says:

      He also thinks his split screens are sooo innovative

  7. Lorri says:

    Biggest improvement is that the contestants don’t stand there and hold up their fingers while Ryan announces their voting number.

  8. Blinged Up says:

    Veerrrrry interesting — I love the behind-the-scenes peeks.
    THANK YOU for asking about so many shots of J-Lo. If he actually “hears” that and takes a few less shots of her making her stank face and flipping her hair around next season, I am eternally grateful.
    All in all, I’m good with the changes this year. I’m enjoying the judges panel – especially Keith and Harry, liked the workshop, etc.
    Great questions, Michael!

  9. Kaba says:

    Also, if he’d wanted rush week to translate better the sensible thing would have been to not hold back on information obv. Let us see that final performance the top 30 gave for the live opportunity. Makes it seem much less ruthless.

  10. Jenna says:

    OH GOOD LORD. When Uncle PB offered, of all things, MORE Randy, and Slezak, of all people, was responsible for this. Not enough words. Priceless.

    Great interview!

  11. Kimbo says:

    Even I felt the force of that bullet we just dodged… I hope we dodged that Randy bullet… Missile… Asteroid… Cataclysmic supernova

  12. Penny says:

    Great interview! They should have told the contestants that the vote was to be kept “anonymous”. I hated that twist!

  13. david says:

    The best part of Idol has become the auditions and Hollywood week. Past that it’s been a let down. I’ll probably watch the first part of Idol next year and hopefully it will have better contestants that actually connect with us than they did this year. I felt kind of invested in Jessica but the judges just kept dumping on her when the other contestants were just horrible. I don’t know if this judging panel is sticking around next year (but I think they are). I wish they would dump J Lo and Harry. They add nothing. Idol has definitely lost it’s way. The contestants were boring this year. This is the first time in the entire run where I’m done watching for this season because the remaining contestants are just horrible.

    • one of Caleb's retarded fans! says:

      People magazine reported the all three judges will be returning. I would dump all three and start with a fresh 3. Former Idol alums or 3 Grumpy Cats would be better. As judges who chose the top 13… they failed. Paying J.HO $17.5 million this season is a joke and to do so again next season this Blankens fellow needs to go back to Sweeden.

      • HTGR says:

        +1
        .
        Especially since they could replace her with Grumpy Cat for about 1/30th the price! And Grumpy Cat would be well grumpy but a fair and even grumpy.

      • (its me becca) Hey I think a good host for the show would be”Flo” from progressive insurance! LOL Yes and also keep Grumpy Cat.

  14. brandon says:

    Slezak, you should honestly be a consulting producer. You know what the show needs and doesn’t need.

    Also, PLEASE bring back the style of set from Seasons 9-11. This new one just seems so dinky, and it’s made the show feel that way in the process.

    • deedee says:

      Could not agree more about the dinky set. As for Michael being a consultant, I think in a way he already is. Producers look to people like Michael for feedback about what’s working for the public and what’s not. Let’s see if there are fewer JLo cutaways in the next few weeks. I bet we’ll see more Harry & Keith reaction shots now.

  15. Angie_Overrated says:

    Translation from Per to plain English: “Randy is amazing at his job because he coordinates workshops with people who actually know what they’re doing to give our contestants actionable advice. What defines a great mentor is the ability to hire other mentors who know a lot more than I do.”
    Wow. Randy destroyed this season. It could have been so much better to have fail safe advice for Majesty to not sing the Disney song or to help Sam and Jessica with stage presence by hiring movement coaches, etc. Oh well. As long as his contract isn’t renewed for next season, there’s still hope.

    • Kaba says:

      Unless Randy verbally quits this guy is gonna be all over this show like piss pitch to CJs voice.

      • Angie_Overrated says:

        I don’t get it. The guest mentors have been awesome consistently in every season. It’s not hard to find a great mentor, especially with how much money they’re wiling to pay for one. I say take HCJ off the panel and stick him in as mentor. I think season 13 could have been amazing had that happened 6 months ago.

        • Kaba says:

          Because common sense doesn’t occur to these people.
          Had the makings to be a spectacular season… Until they actually tried to help these artists. Rather, we get to see the fruits of Randys damaging labor. Fun

          • Angie_Overrated says:

            I was really excited about the show until we got to the final 30. Then it all fell apart as soon as Randy got involved. Seems like the final 3 are there because they were the only ones who could rise above the active destruction of Randy’s word diarrhea.

          • Kaba says:

            I’d even argue that the moral of this season was to remain unwaveringly the same. Stick to what you know.
            Because, otherwise, you’d get Randys ideas as a consequence.

          • Angie_Overrated says:

            I’ve not been happy with this season of Idol at all, but I’m not sure how much of the performance crappiness is the talent of the contestants vs. the fact that they have no legitimate source of guidance. By the time a performance gets to the stage on Wednesday night, the judges can only react to what they’re seeing and hearing. Too late. I think the pubic outrage over Randy will have the producers second guess Randy’s contract renewal. The clamor is even louder than the anti Mariah and Nicki contingent from last year.

          • Angie_Overrated says:

            Oh dear. Pubic outrage = public outrage. lol Why is there no edit button?!

          • Kaba says:

            Pubic outrage, lol. Wouldn’t surprise me if Randy was causing such a thing.
            I sincerely hope there is public outrage outside of the blog world. It’s been a common part of history for the comments sections to not reflect the feels of the general public outside. I recall seeing a movement of unhappiness when Randy announced he’d be quitting as a judge.
            Yup, people actually liked him and wanted him to stay. Try not to succumb to stomach pains at the thought of.

          • Angie_Overrated says:

            I am re-tasting my dinner reading what you just wrote. Really? People like Randy? Who? Why? Where? How? I need answers. The only conclusion I can come to is a sense of nostalgia.

          • Kaba says:

            That’s my first guess.
            The second is that it was some cruel joke.

          • Stormy says:

            In the body that is Idol, Randy is the appendix.

        • KayGee says:

          If Harry switched to being a mentor, would Randy switch to being a judge? Please, no!

          But your post got me thinking . . . I like Harry as a judge, but I think he’d enjoy giving the contestants more in-depth advice than he can as a judge. In fact, I’d bet that each of the judges would be able to give good, solid advice from their own unique perspectives.

          So here’s an idea: Let each of the judges mentor the contestants for one week. (They do something like that on Dancing with the Stars.)

          • Angie_Overrated says:

            Yeah, I’m diggin’ that idea. Maybe unleashing J-Lo into a mentor role is a terrible idea, but Keith and Harry would be awesome.

          • KayGee says:

            J-Lo might be able to help with stage presence, movement, and staging. Those things add to a performance and the contestants might benefit from her experience in those areas. If I’m remembering correctly, she’s the one who suggested the wind machine that enhanced Haley’s performance of “Rhiannon.”

        • My Alter Ego says:

          And frankly, Angie_O, I suspect that Harry would much rather be mentoring, where he could actually help these kids.
          ~
          Oy vey!

          • Angie_Overrated says:

            I agree, MAE. He said as much in one of the earlier live episodes that he’d be staying with them until 5 am helping them perfect their performances. And he’d be really good at it. I’d be so interested to know what this season would have looked like with Harry as the mentor. Iovine got so much better out of these kids, and I think HCJ would do even better.

        • (hi Its Becca) Well what i want to know is, why they insist that the judges have to be jennifer lopezes and nichole scherzingers (x factor) and mariah careys. Why cant it be someone with some sense and someone “iconic”, Stevie Nicks, Cher, Jennifer Nettles, someone who has been in the business for years and knows what they are talking about. For god sakes, even Sharon Osbourne has been around and managed tons of talent. Stevie Nicks would be great. She was really good mentoring Phil Phillips that day and even told him he was cute.

    • MamaLis says:

      “Randy is amazing at his job because he coordinates workshops with people who..” know more than him.
      When you stated it that way, Angie, I’m frightened to say it actually made a bit of sense! As much as I would agree Randy is the “highest paid, unfire-able tenured employee” in Hollywood, I just saw the sliver lining:
      At LEAST Randy has the good sense to recognize his limitations and hire people that perhaps can add more than he can. It could be worse; he could NOT do that. He could be a pompous, insecure fool that refuses to let anyone younger or more creative in the door. Or he could be a clueless fool and not recognize that its even needed. It could be “All Randy, All the Time.” Imagine that!!
      |
      Michael just achieved the impossible. I’ve recognized a potential merit of Randy. Eek.

      • Angie_Overrated says:

        Mayyyyyyybe, MamaLis, but then in that case he’s nothing more than a glorified coordinator or secretary. You or I could do that same job, no? At his payroll, I’d have to imagine the expectations can and should be higher.

        • MamaLis says:

          Oh… 1000% we could do it, Angie. Heck, give me a budget and the phone numbers and I’ll bring in some killer mentors. Every week. And sooner than Monday!
          I was feeling momentarily generous last night but make no mistake, I think Randy is the luckiest, apparently un-fireable, ridiculously overpaid, sadly underproductive, employee in Hollywood.

    • GuitarBlue says:

      Yeah, they called Sam the Heartthrob, Jessica The Rebel — and they should also tag Randy as The Destroyer.

      • Angie_Overrated says:

        Only if “Randy the Waste of Genetic Material” won’t fit in legible type font. If not, then “Randy the Destoyer” is appropriate.

    • HTGR says:

      I loved the line. What? But Randy works so hard for his millions this season! I mean ‘he’ brought in Adam and Chris. He made TWO phones calls! After we told him who to call.

      • Angie_Overrated says:

        Remember as recent as last year they had great guest mentors like Stevie Nicks, Lady Gaga and Smoky Robinson? What happened? Iovine has the Rolodex for a job like that. Randy’s Rolodex has Mariah Carey, but then didn’t she fire him in 2013? So maybe he doesn’t even have her # anymore either. We can only hope and pray Per is reading this message board, but I doubt he’s reading anything he didn’t already know.

        • deedee says:

          Right. I miss the guest mentors! They brought some heft to the show. And, excuse me, Mr. Blankens, but if you have enough time to introduce a “tastemakers” segment to the results shows, then you have enough time to bring back former idols. He really p*sses me off … and sounds like he’s for sure coming back next year, urgh.

        • Anna says:

          I think Iovine was right on with practically every critique he gave to the contestants. I really missed him this season.

  16. Matrix says:

    Excellent questions, Michael! Let me get this straight – “it’s the judges job to coach the kids”? A critique at the end of a performance is NOT coaching. Sounds like HCJ should have fulfilled his responsibility and been available until 5 am at the hotel for these kids working things out!

    • Emma says:

      Ya, if it’s the judges job to coach the kids so they can get better, they’ve done a really poor job of it this season!

      • MamaLis says:

        I don’t think it’s been so bad. Certainly it’s been the best coaching in years. I still think Harry is quite good. Compared to the Voice – which I believe he was doing – it seems the “Coaches” basically have one afternoon of “pre-performance coaching” and then afterwards sit back and stroke, stroke, stroke each other from their big red chairs. I watched for 3 weeks as no one told poor Audra that as lovely as her voice was, the majority of the audience couldn’t understand when she sang in Dutch.

        • Matrix says:

          The point is, it is not coaching. For example, Jess needed someone to work with her while she was rehearsing, giving her real time feedback until she could feel when she was performing in a more effective way. Getting comments after the fact is better than nothing, but far less effective.

          • MamaLis says:

            I’m with you, Matrix. Absolutely they could really have used an ongoing, “deep dive” – type coaching throughout the season. 150%. If Per really wants the excitement of a “growth arc,” he’s going to have to commit to mentoring and coaching in a meaningful way – not JUST post-performance, from the Judges. The difference would likely be enormous.

          • MC says:

            ITA. People totally overestimate the importance of judges on a show like AI. Mentors working behind the scenes and giving “real-time” feedback will eventually have a big impact. The judges are there simply to be provocateurs and easily identified as familiar names and faces. The quality of the mentor or mentors will determine how much the young performers will improve (if at all) over the course of a season. This is why Randy harms the show much more as a “mentor” than he ever did as a judge.

          • HTGR says:

            I wonder if part of the problem is the fast pace. If they had two weeks between shows then they could really have time to dig in and train them. But that said yeah I agree.

    • Maybe they should do like x factor and hire judges that each have 4 or 5 contestants they mentor. That would kill 2 birds with one stone. But “Great judges that can mentor their group.”
      No more bad judges.

  17. Kim Moores says:

    Did Blankens just hear himself correctly?
    He just admitted he doesn’t mind paying someone to find mentors for a week.. And then paying those mentors.
    Fire Randy and destroy the amount of pay JLo gets and maybe we could get some professionals to fix up the shows contestants.

    • Angie_Overrated says:

      lol, Kim. I had the same thought processes go through my mind when I was reading it. I had to read it twice to realize that yup, that’s what Per said. Randy needs to go.

      • Kim Moores says:

        Could’ve sworn big money making folk like him would rather save money than waste it.
        I know homeless people in the city nearest me that could do Randys job for infinitely cheaper IF they absolutely needed such a useless filler position.
        Just get rid of the man. Hell, if he must, pay for Randys therapist that he’ll need to instill the fact that there is life after Idol.
        Paula and Simon left with no regrets, Randys like some loser frat boy college graduate begging to hold onto the glory days.

    • MamaLis says:

      Again, that’s what “project managers” do all the time! I’m sure they do the same type of thing in athletics. Don’t get me wrong, I can think of 100 reasons that Randy is WAY past his “freshness date” and significantly, ridiculously overpaid. But that particular statement… I think it was pretty benign.

  18. Amber says:

    NO Don’t put the idea of 1 hr results shows back in the heads!!!! The 30 minute results are a million times better. None of the meaningless banter. it gets to feel like a chore to watch when its that long

    • JoMarch says:

      I agree that a half hour results show is great. I don’t think that a half hour show and alumnae are mutually exclusive as Per seems to allude to. i fast-forwarded through a great deal of dreck last night that could have been made more interesting by a performance.

  19. Angie_Overrated says:

    Can I get a holla for Hannibal? Oh, wrong board. Don’t care. HANNIBAL!!!!!!

  20. Mary says:

    Michael interesting interview. Do you want more Randy – NoNoNo, burst out laughing at work. If that materialize you have nobody to blame but yourself. I do get his point on cutaway which is what I thought anyhow. How are other people reacting to the performance. I think they just need to find the balance which isn’t quite there yet. The bottom line is the show is old. Some of us love to see the growing arch others want professionals because we have no patients. I do want alumni coming back but if they cut out the result show never going to happen.

  21. ktbanks says:

    Great interview, Slezak! That was a really interesting read. Thank heavens you set him straight on Randy, though. I got a little worried for just a second there when he offered to have MORE or him. Yikes!

  22. sandi says:

    I really don’t know if I will watch another season of Idol. I’ve been a big fan and gone to most of the concerts. I usually have to travel a big distance for the concerts and this year I feel it would be a waste of time and money. JLo got on my last nerve. At first I liked Harry until the girl on the shoulders. Could you be any more inappropriate. I believe that Jessica received the same treatment as Haley. There are more “artists” this year, but I don’t see any of the final three making it big. I didn’t like Caleb at all but have to admit he has a great voice. Alex is too (don’t know the word). Love his singing but can’t watch him. Jena was unbelievably self-centered. Probably won’t watch next week.

    • meg says:

      Jessica was treated very poorly. Could not stand to look at Jennifer’s smug face when they announced Alex’ name to stay. So much bias is shown. These kids are not on the judges “teams” like on the Voice. All should be treated equally by impartial judges. I really dread another season with these three and it used to be the best show on TV for me. The way the judges have to been seen both nights parading to their seats is ridiculous. This show should be about the contestants who are trying so hard to change their lives not the doggone judges with their huge egos. We do not want to see Jlo’s face every time a contestant is up there trying so hard to do well. Who cares if Jlo likes it or not. Maybe Caleb will win the whole thing and and then he can hold up his middle finger at his fans as he takes the crown. . . so he can follow up on his now famous interview. What an awful season.

      • Jill Moya says:

        Meg,
        JLO had tears in her eyes the whole time Jess sang exit song! She looked sad to me! Everyone needs to stop these conspiracy theories that the judges hated Jess! They offered constructive criticism, the same way they did for Haley Reinhart! These judges make big money and are famous! Do you really think that care about any contestant? Especially the low quality talent this year, which they really don’t care about?? It’s all for good tv(in this case, terrible tv)!

    • Becky says:

      I just got finished watching the segment still rolling for the top 4. Randy has already hugged Jessica in this segment Harry is talking and then hugging her, then Keith, then she stares right past JLo who is just staring at her and she thanks get fans. No love lost.
      I could careless who wins now. I do think they are undermining Alex and I do think Jena is a snot. Just how they treated the two girls was completely different. And I feel PB is that his named completely lied to Michael about if they knew who the bottom 2 out. They wanted Jess gone. Caleb and Jena for the final. That was decided a long time ago.
      But Jess will turn out to be a huge star. I gave faith in her. She is a gifted artist.

      • GuitarBlue says:

        The Hunger Games in song.

      • MamaLis says:

        I don’t completely agree with your whole post. I think Alex is great, I like Jena, etc. etc.
        BUT.. I did go look at the STILL ROLLING footage per your remarks.
        Really
        really weird.
        First off, it was quiet sad of course. You could see Jess’s heart was broken.
        Then, it was just.. odd. I’ve seen most of the Still Rollings and there’s a lot to be “read” in those little vignettes. This week Jess seemed especially…. alone. The stage seemed to clear more quickly than prior weeks. (Maybe bcuz less contestants?)
        Also, 100% there was friction between she and JLo. Like, serious, serious shade. And the shade was being thrown FROM Jess TO JLo. (Which, you know, that takes some cohunes.)
        And then Poof! Everyone was gone. She stood alone….
        So, wistful and interesting at the same time.

        • HTGR says:

          Where did you see her throwing shade at JLo? At the end of the regular footage (got clipped by DVR) or in the Still Rolling video. Because I just watched the latter and there was no interaction with her JLo at all that I could see.
          .
          It is interesting in that the comments to her seemed a bit deeper and more sincere as to what they thought of her future than for some others. It seemed like at least one or two of the judges believed in her a lot and Harry seemed pretty genuinely affected.
          .
          Side note: I recall how S11, they were kinda bashing down Elise, but then as the show was ending you could just barely make out Randy and he seemed to have done a 180 on her as soon as the cameras were off and he was praising her a lot.

          • MamaLis says:

            It was the Still Rolling footage.. on the heels of the “back turn” at the end of the show. I just watched it again.
            To clarify:
            ➞ Harry & Keith approach Jess, offer her well, then walk away.
            ➞ Then Caleb kisses her and then the three of them take off.
            ➞ Now Jess is standing totally alone on the big stage, crying.
            ➞ Camera cuts to JLo, 8 feet away, STARING at her sympathetically. I’ve seen that “look” many times, and its a look of, “I know you don’t want me to TOUCH you, so I won’t.”
            ➞ Ends with Jess crying alone. Though JLo is standing there available to comfort her, Jess refuses to even acknowledge her and would rather be alone than talk to her.

            To me, that’s “shade.” “I know you’re Jennifer Lopez and I’m Jess from Slapout, but I refuse to even look at you and in fact, I don’t care how long you stand there looking like a fool.”

          • MAB says:

            Where do I find the still rolling video? I looked for it but couldn’t find it.

          • Becky says:

            The footage is in American idol.net. And I agree it is like she is alone. Like they normally come down to comfort the exiting contestant during the song. They let her sing the entire song before the others pop up. And J-lo just stood there. It will be interesting what she says about her experience.

          • MamaLis says:

            @MAB, Once you land on the American Idol website, click in the upper left corner on “Videos.” Then click “Still Rolling.” It will be the first video available.
            That’s the other thing, “Per,” the new format of the Idol website gives me a serious headache!!!!

          • MAB says:

            Thank you. I will check it out.

          • AlyB says:

            @Mamalis I haven’t seen it yet but will definitely go watch. The thing that jumps out at me is your expectation that Jess should have gone to JLo & not vice versa. It’s on the person wishing to comfort, console & offer encouragement to approach the eliminated contestant. Every still rolling goodbye I’ve ever seen has people going to the contestant not standing around like they’re waiting to hold court expecting the contestant to come looking for some final hint of compassion. I don’t blame Jess. If JLo just hovered and never even bothered to go near her, why would Jess go to her? That doesn’t make sense to me.

    • Becky says:

      Jessica’s hometown greeted her with a hero’s welcome
      And gave her a parade after all.

  23. Steve says:

    I’m confused. At the introduction of the Boot Camp, Randy introduced the idol hopefuls to their make up artists, wardrobe coordinators, singing coaches and onstage performance advisors. Did all of these people leave after the introductions???? I mean all of these kids dress like they are just hanging out on the street or headed to a movie. They’re performing in front of the biggest audience of their lives and none of them takes a moment to try and dress like a star performing. They continue singing songs that someone should have said “NO DO NOT DO THIS SONG, IT DOESN’T WORK FOR YOU (Jessica). Geez, Haley Rhinehart would have killed it this year!!!!

    • GuitarBlue says:

      And where were the Spiritual Advisers when the dirty tricks were pulled – did they all get fired before the top 9?

    • Exactly where did all the wardrobe people go/ And shouldnt they use the spiritual advisors more often? I bet “the spiritual advisors could only take so much and went home after 1 week of this bullcrap. The spiritual advisors got a bunch of blocks in their chakras . They had to “smudge some sage and get the heck out of there! Then when they got home had to banish the “American idol Demons” through massive meditations for days! LOL

  24. Emma says:

    Shoulda asked him what he thinks of the ratings this year. heh.

  25. Akdar says:

    Great interview and hooray for Per Blankens! Apart from Randy as a mentor I really like the changes that they have done this year. It seems to me that those who complain have very short memory and forgot how terrible the last few seasons were. Yes, they did produce some great artists like Phillip Phillips, but they produced them in spite of their horrible format and horrible judges, because these few artists are great talents and could not be stopped, not because of that old format. I was sick of the same old fashioned themes repeated ad nauseam and a ballad after ballad after ballad with few precious exceptions thrown in. This season has been fresh and there were some great performances. For some reason, both the singers and Per Blankens don’t really get credit for it and instead get bashed here at TVLine and elsewhere. I don’t understand why.

  26. sg says:

    Wow I guess I have been watching TV and movies wrong all these years. Instead of looking at the screen myself I should be watching the people next to me watch the screen. Who knew it would be so much easier to connect to someone else reaction when they watch something than to watch it myself and form my own reaction?

    • syb says:

      Yeah that was pure bull. But he’s producing reality TV, and not a singing showcase I guess. Too bad.

    • tealeaves says:

      lol. Excellent point. There is a logic to allowing us to see other people reacting to the performance, but it should be an extremely brief cutaway! Mostly, we want to see the performance ourselves!

    • ikemendes says:

      ahah exactly! You win this comment section

  27. Name This Tune says:

    Can we put to bed the idea that the judges and producers are trying to get a certain outcome.
    It is you and I who are determining the results.

    • karenb says:

      Maybe. But I find it hard to believe that counting all of the votes from all the different areas are legit. I know that the world is one big computer now but still. It seems like a lot of votes could get “lost” in the shuffle. I don’t like that there are like 5 different ways to vote now, either. Why did this all become so complicated?

      • Name That Tune says:

        Paranoia is a mental disorder. Why would the producers and judges care how we vote? If you don’t like the way the voting turns out, look at your friends and neighbors as the villains in the piece.
        All the producers care about is getting you worked up. They don’t care who wins. Don’t give them that much power.

    • toadily says:

      Well said NTT!!

  28. qj201 says:

    on more change:

    DUMP SEACREST

    I wish he’d just shut up and hammering us with his catch phrases. He is just utterly annoying.

    • Simon says:

      Well, he’s still way better than Carson and Mario ever were.

    • LibbyxD says:

      No way! When Ryan goes I go! Lol. It’s been funny to watch him flirt with Harry this year. He definitely has a thing for Harry

    • MamaLis says:

      Noo.. Seacrest has actually grown on me. He really is a consummate professional. His tone is always exactly right, he’s friendly yet professional, he’s never called in sick not one day. =)
      Seriously, it’s true he makes it all look WAY easier than it really is.

    • AlyB says:

      No. I like Ryan. Over the years have there been some bombed attempts at humor? Sure and ok he can get a little campy but that’s part of his charm. For the most part he has treated the contestants with not just respect but compassion. The show would never be the same without him.

  29. Danny says:

    Maybe we can bring him back a little bit more now at the end [of the season], if that’s a request from you, Mike.

    I stopped right there to reply. LOL!!! Slezak, if we see more of Randy because of you, it’s 50 lashes with a wet noodle. I liked how you followed up with “NO!! NO!! NO!!” (didn’t read after that), so ya might be safe with us yet.

    Really interested in what he said about camera shots of Lopez. Back to reading the rest of it. Good interview so far.

  30. Susanna says:

    I don’t want to go back to narrow themes of 40 or 50 year old music. Pushing people out of their genre generally results in enough disaster The older themes are just painful to sit through. I don’t ever want to hear Burt Bacharach again. Maybe in the early years when it was a novelty it was kind of funny watching some of the contestants fall on their face. I know it created buzz. But now it’s old and lame and not particularly interesting to watch. Why waste our time making us watch people sing badly? I say do whatever they can to help them shine. Yes that would include more ex idol mentors and MUCH less of Randy Jackson. The cut aways are horrible. I can see one or two reaction shots but we have 2 seconds of performer and then cut away. It’s distracting. It keeps you from getting into the performance. Who goes to a movie or a play or a concert and keeps looking away from the stage to see what other people are doing? That answer didn’t make any sense. Also, there is no consistency between how much they cut away from one performer to the next. The person calling which camera shot is broadcasting from the control room seems to have ADD. I want to see the contestant. Change camera angles if they must, give us one or two reaction shots but stop with the dancing cameras.

    • Simon says:

      I would rather have a few trainwrecks and a few amazing surprises than just a bunch of decent but predictable performances.

    • HTGR says:

      I disagree and look at the megastars who came out of the early seasons when they made them try to handle everything under the sun. I think it helped make voting go a bit better too since it’s harder for a one note singer to keep getting mad votes if they give a few train wrecks. A crying shame they put that to rest for Haley’s season and kinda bashed her for being able to do it all. She arrived too late.

    • Caroline says:

      I completely agree with you about the cut aways. I just watched Carrie’s and Kelly’s performances (seasons 1 & 4), and they didn’t do that then. Sometimes, the wide shot would include the back of the judges, but they didn’t focus on their faces. It makes those old performances much more enjoyable to watch. I really find it annoying when they show JLo’s face instead of the contestant. I mean, who goes to a concert and watches people in the audience instead of the performer?

  31. AlyB says:

    Thanks for the interview. He’s either in a bubble where none of the fan issues are getting through or he was just faking ignorance. By and large most bloggers and commenter out there have reached consensus on some key points. Randy is a joke, there should be better mentoring and yes we want to see it. They cut away to JLo waaaaay too much (and no that doesn’t mean we want to see the other judges we want more performance). Putting the contestants in mean situations is wearing thin. And oh hell no, themes don’t HAVE to be old done to death music. Why are the options the entire music catalogue ever of love songs or Burt Bacharach? I don’t mind pushing a contestant out of their comfort zone to see what they can do but I love the fact that, with the exception if Caleb, we’ve heard more current music recently. Caleb’s dated material is one of the reasons I don’t care for him. Also, if the judges are truly trying to coach a contestant to growth, why do they endlessly harp on one for something several of them do. They gloss over the shortcomings of some of them throughout the season. That’s what gets people upset. If they’re going to be brutally honest, let it rip in all of them.

  32. Debbie says:

    I am sure I just commented on this forum but my comments do not appear here. Any idea why that is?

    • MamaLis says:

      No. But that has absolutely happened to me, Debbie. It’s the worst if have a really great idea. You write it. You post it. And then…. poof. Gone forever.

    • HTGR says:

      Sometimes they appear after a refresh or after a few minutes. Sometimes never. Not quite sure the how and why of it all.

  33. as says:

    Not a single question inquiring about a producer agenda for the final 2. Not a single question about the obvious favoritism and bias showed to certain contestants. Great job Michael…you spent your entire Q &A pointing out that Randy doesn’t do much.Asked and answered.

  34. Mb says:

    Glad you asked abt the cutaways. They are so annoying. Sam had a run in Sail Away and a really cool one in Sing but we didn’t get to watch him do the runs because they cutaway to the girls. You asked all the right questions, hope PBS takes them seriously.

  35. Mb says:

    *PB (stupid autocorrect

  36. danin says:

    But this isn’t a movie& we don’t need to linger all over JLo’s or any judges faces to see what they’re feeling..we usually know within a second and more importantly we know what we’re feeling.We are not in a team w/the judges. ALSO, I beg to differ w/Per Blankens..the kids ARE GOOD @ the beginning..they get progressively worse during the process.How many times do we start off enthused &excited by their ability and talent only to be let down BY THE PROCESS? And what happened to Ryan,not that he was ever endearing but he’s become a suit..how about Ryan becoming realer&more authentic.How about all prod people becoming more authentic?? Then you will nourish&encourage more authentic performances from these kids.

    • MamaLis says:

      What do you want them all to do to nourish the “realness” and “authenticity?”
      Not shave? Walk around barefoot? Pass wind? I know if I could hear Caleb rip one I would feel MUCH better about things. :-(

      • danin says:

        I could counter your sarcasm w/sarcasm and I won’t. Other people have suggested humanizing this procesd and what they show or share w/us.For instance more mentoring time. If the focus is on result it’s bound to block people from actually creating creative choiced and results. And I had no problem w/Bo Bice walking around barefoot. I have no problem w/Ryan getting out of suit&tie.I have no problem w/hosts actually being funny and if they or any of them fart in the process,great…it’ll burst the bubble they all live in,at least for the moment.

        • MamaLis says:

          That’s cool, Danin. I catch your drift. I was just joking around. Certainly I don’t care what they wear or don’t wear. I think a few people have performed barefoot and it was a great vibe.
          Basically I still like Idol so anything that’s good for the show – is good for me.

          • danin says:

            Thanks MamaLis, I watch to hear the kids sing.I started watching from season one to have something to talk to my mom about.After all those seasons none of the criticism is new from the fans or the judges hahaha.I mostly block out what is annoying to me.

          • MamaLis says:

            Oh that is so sweet. Do you know I watch Idol with my 10-year old son! Sometimes he doesn’t want to but I say, “Come on, you know we’ll at least laugh!” Which we always do. His payback is that I have to watch Regular Show and Monday Night Raw on Mondays. LoL
            That’s a sweet story though, Danin.

  37. Michael Johns says:

    “They want to bring out the best in each contestant, and that’s how they do it. If they were to say, “you were great, you’re a superstar, you’re perfect,” that wouldn’t be honest. ” He’s kidding, right? They practically worship their faves even when they poop on-stage.

    • (ITS BECCA) Yes bring out the best in each contestant. Hey kids, “we went to k mart and salvation army and these outfits should really bring out the best in you.You will just look fabulous in this “Disney frock” Majesty” and here for you alex, heres your pants, we found them on the side of the road. The hem came out, but thats okay just roll them up to almost your shins. And Jena, we found you a half black, half white, dress. Thats because the black dress was torn so we sewed a white used tablecloth to the ripped half. It looks marvelous! They just used “Wally Cleaver and Opey Cunninghams old shirts from the set for sam and alex to wear. They couldnt afford shampoo sometimes so they had caleb use Pssssst which is a spray on shampoo that doesnt work. and what the heck is all this food about on the stage,? Deviled eggs one night and what ever those white things Harry was eating? The contestants didnt get any of those treats. They have to wait and they only get “sliders” every damn night ,EVERY NIGHT I like sliders to but not every night for 3 months.

  38. CTZ says:

    Thanks for asking the tough questions!

  39. GuitarBlue says:

    I also understand now. ………
    Randy is a wizard because he asked former successful Idol Alum to mentor. No one else would have thought of that, except fellow bloggers over the years. I should never quetion for Randy’s wisdom………………………………………………………..

    And, I should pay less attention to the Idol’s singing, and more to how J. Lo is reacting to it…

    If I can read her expressions, head bob’s and gestures correctly, then I will know better how to vote for the right contestants. ……………………. I will be part of the story ……………… I will be enchanted, charmed and grateful to focus upon for her hairstyles and wardrobe……………………….. I will no longer be an ingrate…………………

    I was blind, but now I see.

  40. HTGR says:

    “If you think you haven’t seen enough of him, I’m sorry, Maybe we can bring him back a little bit more now at the end [of the season], if that’s a request from you, Mike.
    .
    TVLINE | No, no, no! [FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!!!!!!!!] What I’m saying is [NO!!!!!!]”
    .
    ahahahahahhahahahaha LOLOLOLOLOLOL
    .
    .
    .
    .
    It’s clear this new producer sure as heck doesn’t keep up with the blogs or what fans are saying.

  41. Tahoe Mike says:

    @Per B. (just in case he reads this article..)
    You promised us that Randy was gone, and you broke that promise. We hate him viscerally, and want him gone from our televisions and out of our homes and lives. He is a cancer, and must be cut out without remorse, if you want to save the patient.
    ~
    When the contestants are performing, I AM JUDGING FOR MYSELF. I don’t care what the hell Jlo is thinking, I am trying to experience the moment for myself; and form my own opinion. You cover the performances as badly as NBC covers the Olympics. Like them, you cover everything but the action. The coaches don’t vote, I do. Show me the performances without distraction.
    ~
    Please, once the field of contestants reaches a manageable number, make them sing the whole songs. Finding out who can, and can’t, sustain the audiences attention for a full three to six minutes would seem to be worth knowing. Can they work the stage and be interesting during the instrumental moments of a performance? Can they REALLY play, or are they just wearing those instruments as fashion accessories? Nobody enjoys the filler you cram into the shows.
    ~
    You kept calling them “Kids,” instead of “Contestants.” I am an adult, and I am not interested in watching a kiddie show. I am looking for artists who I can relate to, and who’s art speaks to me. Maybe you could alternate “Senior” and “Junior” seasons. One season make the age limits 15 to 25, and the next make it 25+. I like the idea of finding that talent who thought they had missed their chance when they had to get a job and pay the rent, or raise kids, or take care of business.
    ~
    I do favor stricter weekly challenges. If Idol is in fact an educational experience, conduct it as one. When you go to college, they don’t just tell you to go read books you already like and write whatever you want. They tell you what books to read, they assign the topics of your papers, and in general make a concerted effort to expose you to thoughts, ideas, concepts, and points of view that you are not already familiar with; and reconsider what you think you already know in new ways.

    • HTGR says:

      Oh no, you just HAD to remind me that NBC just locked up the OLympics for like the next 20 years or something. :( NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • HTGR says:

      some good points though

  42. So the real problem is Pers has 16 cameras and doesn’t know what to do with them so he shows all kinds of stupid things. So somebody needs to take those cameras away and give him just one or two.

    • Timmah says:

      Exactly. I was watching some old clips of Idol performances today and it was so refreshing to see just some long and close-up shots of the contestants and the audience as they were performing. There were no judge reaction shots, I mean zero. And when they got to the judges at the end, their comments were concise and to the point. In other words, the show was about the contestants, as it should be. Uncle PB is ruining this once-great show, I’m sad to say.

      • Agent Smith says:

        They have turned the show more and more in to a side-show of celebrity mix, with lots of “side” stories for antics and how young girls are supposedly crazy about old rockers like Steven Tyler, .J. Lo the Movie Star Dancer dancer, Nikki & Mariah tension and throwing pastries into the crowd,

        shoulder rides for young ladies in the audience, Seacrest standing around the Judges making pointless small-talk, bringing the contestants to stand with the Judges before performing, etc., etc

        .

        The show is more and more about the Judges, their performances on the stage and sometimes over-babble in the chairs. — cut-aways even to how they whisper to each other while paying no attention to the singers. And TPTB seem to be clueless as to why ratings continue to slide every year.

    • tealeaves says:

      Exactly @aevangelista7!
      Per Blankens should review the tapes of the American Idol moments. They are about the performer and the passion they bring to the performance as well as the vocals. There are no long cutaways to the judges! Yeesh! If he does not have a lot of time, he can start with the moments from the winners and runners up. Performances like Cook’s Billie Jean, Kris’s Heartless, Adam’s Mad World, Phillip’s Volcano, Ruben’s Superstar, Clay’s Bridge Over Troubled Water, Fantasia’s Summertime, Carrie’s Alone, Bo’s In a Dream, Jordan’s I Who Have Nothing.

  43. efurman says:

    so Per Blankens is the reason why i wont re-watch any of the performances from this season. An action movie !!!??? its real simple , two cameras , 1 full body and 1 close up . no cutaways to J-Lo or harry or keith or random girl !!!!!!!!! i cant believe he ruined a season just so he could “tell a story” so sad.

  44. Timmah says:

    Meet the new Nigel. Same as the old Nigel.

  45. Cindy says:

    It seems that having the contestants sing well known, hit songs is what makes it harder for them to sell their album of original songs later. Those are new songs that nobody has heard. It’s good to have them sing a variety of well known and lesser known songs, along with an occasional original. There are millions of people that watch American Idol, but only a few actually buy the contestants’ own music.

    • Agent Smith says:

      What you say may be reflected in the release of Candice Glover’s album, sales are only around 60,000 last I heard. Usually the Idol platform and Label promo as the winner would sell much more than that in the first couple months. Maybe the voters that gave her the win, did not bother to buy the album, thinking it would just be more of the same-old stuff they heard on the show.

      • Syb says:

        While I believe this is true most of the time, not only on Idol but on all talent shows, the problem has been the material and not the singer in my opinion. The singers on this show sing live at an extraordinarily high level as evidenced by comparing them to the guest stars who very often don’t hold a candle to even the medium level contestants. So the problem is that these records are thrown together by producers who haven’t hand selected the artist, but are given the job to put something out that will appeal to the lowest common denominator. There is often no understanding of the artists’ strengths and no real vision for the artist’s identity. The outliers, Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Phil Phillips who did sell their debut records were lucky enough to work with people and labels who either found material with commercial appeal that suited the artist’s strengths, or in the case of Phil respected his songwriting enough to allow him to record music that was Phil.
        Candice’s record is flawed but not because Candice is bereft of commercial potential. The singles released were the worst music of a pretty mediocre set of songs in a grab bag of subgenres. There are a couple that actually have potential to sell I think, but nobody apparently cared enough to make considered decisions about what she should sing and how to sell it. She won, she gets a record, and its all really an afterthought to ratings for the show. This is a tv show first, and not truly a talent search. I think as an audience our expectation that the singers we love on the show will achieve Clarkson/Underwood success is unreasonable especially in the overnight way that they hit their strides. But even allowing for that, it would be better for the winner in the long run not to rush to try to capitalize on the Idol audience interest. Take some time, find the right material, the right producer, the right niche, and put out something of quality that fits right. In the meantime, do the appearances, sing the popular covers, keep your name out there in the reality star sort of way, do some small concerts and clubs, and when you have a good record, it may all pay off. Putting out something crummy is hazardous as people once interested may write you off forever as a flameout.

        • Becky says:

          Actually it was not so overnight. I do believe Carrie took a little bit more time. Jesus take the wheel was incredible. She got so much out of that one song. The duet with Randy Travis, the respect of the grand ole opre, the regular gig on the cmas, Kelly winning a Grammy. They both hit their strides. Carrie went with the flow, Kelly fought for what she wanted in later albums. But remember Carrie stunk at performance. Bice blew her away but her voice but they both followed on there first couple of albums what they were told to do. Kelly writes songs, I don’t think Carrie does.
          Jessica Meuse is going to do extraordinarily well in country music. Her ability to craft a song as well as she can, her voice is outstanding, her staying true to herself. Country radio has not been playing very many new country women artist and I think she will fill a notch that has been missing.
          Jolene is a song I never liked until she put her spin on it. And the duet with Kenny, she delivered better with Dexter than Dolly ever did.
          The show has changed. It is above a tv show. There client is the sponsor and sponsors want people to watch the commercials, they want controversy, they don’t care if Candace ever records another record again. They are selling product. And PB is pleasing them too. Wonder how many women called about that dress JLo wore and where to get and where she got her lipstick. That is part of the reason they show JLo. She is selling product.

        • tealeaves says:

          And Daughtry, Cook, McCreery, Sparks, Fantasia, Pickler, Archuleta, Lambert, Allen, Mandisa, Yamin, Reinhart, Bowersox, James, Abrams, Durbin, Covington, Dixon, . . . Plenty of Idols have put out music that suited them.

  46. desifish2011 says:

    Actually, Michael, I think you missed a lot of opportunities in your interview by focusing on minutae. (J.Los facetime, Randy. Really?) The first being that despite the changes (which I believe to be mostly positive, btw) the ratings continue to dip. Yet the show was renewed for another season. Why? Do TPTB expect the ratings to go up or are they milking the dying cow for all it’s worth before putting it to pasture? Also Idol has had ALOT of fresh songs this year, much more current. These kids are literally setting the standard now. And when they’ve covered something by past idols they have generally done a MUCH better performance (Yes, Jess’s You and I was better than Haley’s. Uh huh, I went there!) Ricky Minor and the band! Bandzilla raised it’s head a couple of time this season but over all the sound quality has been amazing and I just adore Ricky Minor, especially when he’s rockin out with Caleb. What prompted this improvement with the band? And Allison! Bringing back former contestants mentoring, coaching, singing back-up is working ask for more of it! You touched on it alittle but then had to whine about Randy. And as far as Randy goes…he’s like a soft blanket. Very comfortable. No he doesn’t give great advice but he is not mean and he cares for the kids alot. There’s something to be said for that. This is the best Judge’s panel ever on idol. I think J.Lo has upped her game considerably with Keith and Harry. I have found myself agreeing with her alot this season. Glad she’s coming back next year.

    • joey says:

      J Lo’s face time is not minutiae. Randy’s incompetence as a mentor is not minutiae.
      .
      J Lo’s face time means that the producer is doing what he thinks will get ratings. But Idol didn’t become the number one show by cutting the camera to the likes of J Lo. It became number one by finding the likes of Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, etc.
      .
      J Lo’s face had nothing to do with it. Big name, high paid stars had nothing to do with. It’s success came from finding real, undiscovered stars. To find a star you have to focus on the contestants, not on some middle-aged, over paid, has-been, lip synching judge.
      .
      You also need competent mentors to develop the undiscovered stars, which Randy Jackson is not.
      .
      These are not small issues. They pertain to the essence of the show: Find a star who America can fall in love with.

  47. tealeaves says:

    Sadly, Per was probably sincere when he said, “They’re complaining about too many shots of J.Lo? Is that possible? [Laughs]”
    The NFL does not pan to the cheerleaders during the plays! Please, Idol, stop ruining the performances by lingering on JLo when I want to see the performer! It wouldn’t be so completely annoying if her reaction to the performance had gravitas. But it does not. Every week she is giddy about the performances of the males that she likes. She will sometimes even tell them that the vocals were off but she does not care! She just loves watching them perform! Then females over the age of 17 will leave her cold. I don’t care and I really don’t care to see it on her face in the middle of the performance! Everyone I know who watches this show has commented that it is annoying how they keep showing her so much during the performances.
    .
    Idol’s niche is that it is about the contestants. It has always been the show that most allows us to connect to the contestants. If that goes away, there is nothing left.
    .
    One problem Idol has always had is that there should be much less time spent on the judges later in the season. Once we get to the top 4 or 5 contestants, they all have good reason why they are there. I could stomach the manipulations better if they at least stopped it once the contestants made it to the final few.

  48. kitty says:

    More Adam Lambert.

  49. CK from DC says:

    Slezak, your question about JLo was spot on. And the answer confirmed my darkest fears.

    This man has NO IDEA that he screwed up the perfect opportunity to re-introduce American Idol to America, because he honestly thinks that constant cutaways to closeups of JLo, mindless swaybots, and Randy sitting on a couch is what America wants to see. Because apparently what we want to see is American Idol, a firm by Michael Bay.

    • Agent Smith says:

      “””This man has NO IDEA that he screwed up the perfect opportunity to re-introduce American Idol to America, “”””

      A very good observation. It is sad but true,that the took a show that had a lot of “come-back power” and only drove it further into the “no-thank”s category by putting J. Lopez back in the chairs and promoting the Judges antics and torturing the contestants with holding stables, bus rides to nowhere, 1 minute voting decisions to yes or no against their fellow contestants,

      what does that have to do with developing talent?? More face-time for the celebrity Judges seems to be the new theme.

  50. CK from DC says:

    WHEN they cancel Idol after next year, I would love for Yahoo or Netflix or Amazon to step up, borrow some spare change from Dr. Dre for a show and a post-Idol album, hire 6-7 former Idol finalists (Adam, Allison, Cook, etc), and have the show we’ve been asking for all these years. A show where the winner wins based on popularity AND talent. A show based on Debbie Allen’s lines from all those years ago from FAME, “You want fame? Well, fame costs. And right here is where you start paying … in sweat.”

    • Agent Smith says:

      Not to mention that The Voice had every one of it’s top 8 performers make it into The Top 100 on itunes one day this week. Every single one.!!!

      In my area, I know even the younger talents are now more likely to try-out for The Voice and deciding to skip trying for Idol.

      • MamaLis says:

        Alex has been firmly implanted in iTunes for weeks!
        Also Mark Burnett has had his share of mis-steps and ridiculous decisions this season, as well.
        Plus…I’m sorry, but The Voice still can’t “fight the fight” on potential just yet. Maybe that will change, but they just haven’t shown the follow-thru and post-season career launch that Idol has somehow been able to deliver. Even recently with Phil Phillips and Scotty McCreery, to non-winners like Katherine McPhee and JHud to BUNCHES of people in between.
        Over the course of 13 seasons – you can’t take that away from Idol.

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